Alcohol Counseling Certification and Certificate Program Info

Oct 14, 2019

Essential Information

Programs such as the Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling are designed to prepare individuals to take state certification exams for alcohol and drug counselors. These programs last variable amounts of time. Students learn about substance pharmacology, crisis intervention, and counseling models, among other subjects. Some courses also cover the laws and ethics that addiction professionals need to abide by to protect client rights. Aspiring and current professionals may participate in these programs to prepare for initial certification or recertification. The certification credentials may require a license as well as sufficient experience. Candidates might consider a focus in a field related to human services, like social work or counseling. A GED or high school diploma is required and some programs require an associate's degree or higher, as well as drug tests.

Alcohol Counseling Certification

Many certificate programs in alcohol and drug counseling require students to complete a certain number of hours of work experience in addition to coursework, applying their class instruction to actual settings. Below are listed some typical class topics:

  • Assessment techniques
  • Treatment plans
  • Group and individual counseling
  • Medical record keeping
  • Case management

Employment Outlook

According to projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors can expect a 22% employment growth between 2018 and 2028 ( The BLS theorized that this faster-than-average growth will be due to the decreasing stigma associated with alcohol and drug addictions, inspiring more people to seek counseling. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median wage for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was $41,070 a year.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

States administer their own certification so requirements will vary, but certificate programs aim to meet state requirements so graduates may pass the exams. Formerly the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), the Association for Addiction Professionals offers national certification ( Individuals may pursue different designations, such as National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) Levels I and II and Master Addiction Counselor (MAC). The NCAC and MAC certifications require candidates to possess a state certificate or license as a substance abuse counselor or in their profession, like Licensed Social Worker or Licensed Professional Counselor. Full-time or supervised experience is mandatory, and education requirements need to be met for certain certifications.

Alcohol counseling certification programs train students in methods such as group and individual counseling, medical record keeping, and case management, in order to prepare graduates for a range of certification exams.

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